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Issue of March 2006 
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Keeping the data centre in-house

Manoj Chandiramani, Vice-president, Man Financial Securities India, details the behind-the-scenes efforts required to set up a successful data centre in-house without going over-budget

Manoj Chandiramani

In-house data centres can be a very good option for companies who want better manageability with lower costs. These are the primary drivers for companies as building an in-house data centre can prove to be very cost-effective in the long term.

Not Necessarily Expensive

An in-house data centre can prove to be quite inexpensive if certain initial components are taken care of. One of the primary requirements for an in-house data centre is to choose the right building for its premises.

Of the few components which contribute the most towards the TCO of having an in-house data centre, the highest percentage can be cut down right in the beginning by selecting the right premises. There should be redundant power supply from multiple providers, and backup facilities using power generators to ensure uninterrupted power supply for the data centre operations.

The initial cost of setting up a data centre might be a little higher than outsourcing as it involves costs such as purchasing a location and setting up your own racks

The initial cost of setting up a data centre might be a little higher than outsourcing, as it involves costs such as purchasing a location and setting up your own racks. However, you need to look at the larger picture. In a span of about three years, the cost saving comes out to be more than thirty to forty percent.

Plan Everything

The right premises include essential infrastructure such as power backup as well as easy accessibility to your own office on a 24x7 basis.

Another consideration is the availability of fibre/copper from telecom companies. The issue when setting up the basic infrastructure is to decide on the number of racks and other equipment required in a data centre. This should be done with future expansion requirements in mind.

Then there’s air-conditioning and flooring. In our data centre, we do not use a raised or false floor as cabling can also be done from the roof or along the side of walls by having a proper trench. It is also necessary to ensure that anti-static flooring is used in the data centre.

Proper UPS systems are crucial as is ensuring that the earthing is done right. In an in-house data centre, a common earthing point is required to ensure the right voltage, with a dedicated earthing pit. Only this can help ensure equipment safety.

One important issue that needs to be taken care of while setting up a data centre is coordinating the deliveries of all equipment from different vendors, to ensure timely completion.

In our case, it took us about 45 days to complete the entire set-up and start our operations. Every step is a challenge right from ensuring regular power backup to ensuring the delivery of equipment, coordinating with all the vendors involved and then making sure that the work is completed in time.

Harvesting The Gains

Once the initial infrastructure components are in place, then one can start leveraging the benefits. One of the major benefits of having an in-house data centre is better control.

Another notable advantage is having a quick and anytime accessibility to the data centre. Functioning from the same premises, it becomes easy to manage and monitor access and in using the information. The third major advantage is vicinity to your application, especially if you need to use the application in-house rather than for external users.

Last but not the least, in the times of failure one can immediately correct the fault as it managed by the internal staff. Since these personnel are stationed there 24x7, there is no travelling time involved.

Better Than Outsourcing

As it built and owned by the company itself, there is no need for permissions or approvals (as is the case with shared hosting providers to access the servers). Unlike a co-hosting environment where one can access the servers only during visiting hours, one has anytime access to in-house data centres.

In a shared hosting company, only basic services are provided. Another drawback is that since it is an external entity with many customers, it also lacks the personal touch when compared to an in-house data centre.

In-house data centres are better managed as they are looked after by a company’s own staff who tend to be more experienced and accustomed to managing one’s own application. They have gained expertise in the domain area by working on it regularly.

The Case For Security

In-house data centres are better managed as they are looked after by a company’s own staff who tend to be more experienced and accustomed to managing one’s own application. They have gained expertise in the domain area by working on it regularly

An in-house data centre also gives higher security levels, as there are a very limited number of people who visit and access the information. Since we are a financial institution, our data is very important.

In our case, getting the connection from the financial exchanges into a common hosting environment was a problem, as the exchange did not permit termination of leased lines into a common hosting environment. This is why we opted for an in-house data centre where there is better control.

External Help

While setting up our data centre we did not take any external opinion, except consult our power vendors (like APC) for ensuring proper power systems.

Building and managing one’s own data centre is not an easy task but it pays well in the end. For us, each step was a challenge, but our team stood by the project, and even spent nights working together to ensure that we stick to our deadlines.

As told to Sneha Khanna

 
     
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